Supporting People Living With Parkinson Disease in Central and South Texas
The cardinal symptoms of Parkinson's (TRAP) are the hallmarks of the disease. These symptoms, which often appear gradually and steadily worsen, are usually the reason an individual seeks medical attention. In most cases, the motor symptoms begin on one side of the body and migrate over time to the other side.
There is no test (such as a blood test, brain scan or EEG) that clearly and specifically identifies PD. Instead, a doctor completes a detailed medical history and performs a thorough neurological examination. Presence of two or more of the cardinal symptoms leads the doctor toward a PD diagnosis, which is validated by performing diagnostic tests to rule out other possibilities that show some of the same symptoms as Parkinson’s. Frequently, the doctor will also look for responsiveness to Parkinson's medications, in a procedure called a “drug trial” or “drug challenge,” as further evidence that Parkinson's is the correct diagnosis.
Unfortunately, because there is no definitive test for Parkinson's disease and because PD's symptoms are similar to those of other neurological conditions, the misdiagnosis rate is relatively high. Many PWPs seek second and third opinions, and also seek evaluation by a movement disorder specialist (a board-certified neurologist who specializes in the treatment of movement disorders like Parkinson’s).